Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Activities for Josh

Juggling the needs of four kids is proving to be difficult.  The older kids need their schoolwork planned, lessons given, and work graded.  I often fall behind on the latter.  That can be bad when I don't catch that they've been doing something wrong for weeks.  Josh needs attention and lots of active play.  But how do you get outside when you have to do school with the older kids and it's cold and rainy all the time.  Sure you can go outside anyway, but Josh is prone to getting painfully cold even when bundled up more than the rest of us.  Maddie is pretty easy unless she's demanding to be nursed.  Sometimes she won't accept any offer of food or drink, instead crying hysterically for a long time when I won't give in and let her nurse.  I've been trying to find solutions.  Here's a few things we did this morning.

First, I sent him outside in the backyard since it wasn't raining.  Per one suggestion, I gave him a large container and suggested his fill it with rocks (our small patio is bordered with a rock border).  This is for deep muscle work.  He picked up a couple and quit.  Maddie was happy filling up our cooler with rocks; that's not where I wanted them, though.  I also created this with a few 4x4s that the owners left sitting outside.

I thought a balance beam type of thing would be fun.  It has three different levels.  It lasted about 5 minutes.

The owners also left behind this overgrown planter box.  It's about 8 feet by 8 feet square.  Based on suggestions, I thought I might turn it into a digging pit to replace our tiny plastic sandbox.  I started pulling the weeds and grass, as you can see.  I found VERY rocky soil, several rusty nails and screws, lots of worms, a few large larva of some kind, and rusty metal rods that the frame used to be screwed too.   I invited Josh to help weed, but he didn't want to get dirty.

Here's a close up of the dirt and one of those metal rods.  I tried to dig this one out but there are large rocks deep in the soil that I can't get past, and these things are pretty long; I know because I had one of them pulled out from another part of the yard.  It's going to be tough to get them out.

How would you deal with this space?  It's pretty loamy soil (I think that's the term), so the kids will get very dirty if they can bring themselves to play in it.  We'll have to find some play clothes; we don't have any to sacrifice right now.  I was thinking about dumping some sand in it to make it less muddy.  I'm not looking to turn it into a sandbox; that will be too expensive.  I'm also concerned about the nails and screws.  The kids are not inoculated against tetanus so, I guess, we'll have to consider that if they want to play there in case they step on a nail or something.

Finally, we did some "school"...

Structured academic activities are easiest for me; it's how I think.   I started working through the lessons of MEP Reception, a UK math program online, with him yesterday.  Today's lesson asked him to draw his family.  The middle person is Daddy; the other bigger person is me; directly below Daddy is Sam; directly above me is Mika; and on the right side is Maddie on top and Josh on bottom.   He holds his crayon/pencil/marker with his whole arm hovering an inch or two above the table and refuses to rest his arm on the table as I have tried modeling.  His fine motor skills seem way behind to me, but I don't really  know what is typical for this age.  Is this typical for a four year old?

After math, I did lesson 2 from the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading.  I checked it out of the library so I'll have to buy a copy if I want to continue with it.  It only took about five minutes.  Then we read two books from the library.  He didn't want to read the second book, but I didn't give him a choice; I wanted to keep him busy and out of trouble.

It's finally lunch time.  I'm looking forward to nap time afterward.

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